As President, Hope is responsible for overseeing all operations of Brushfire Tacos y Tapas along with administration, accounts payable/receivables, and human resources. She is a proud recipient of a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. Prior to coming onboard with Brushfire Tacos, Hope was a licensed insurance and financial service agent who worked alongside her Father Clint Berkey (Founder) for over 8 years. Hope and her family relocated to Phoenix, AZ in 2014 to launch and manage Brushfire’s start-up along with managing additional family-owned entities in Arizona. She is the driving force behind our emerging and developing business systems. Hope works closely with the Founder and banking interests for prospective future Brushfire locations and investments. She has two amazing boys ages 17 and 3, loves to go on coffee dates with friends and always has a positive attitude that does not quit until a problem is solved.
Patricia Wharton & Sierra Swartz
Patricia is a bilingual 4th grade teacher at Sunnyslope School in the Washington Elementary School District. She has been with the school district for over 12 years and is also the 21st Century Community Outreach Specialist at her current school. Patricia is dedicated to providing family engagement opportunities, building community partnerships, and securing volunteers and donations for Sunnyslope School students, families, and staff members. In 2012, she won the Esperanza Latino Teacher Award, which was one of the biggest honors of her life. In 2014, she was awarded the Lamp of Learning Award which is the highest recognition given by the Washington Elementary School District. Born in Chihuahua, Mexico, Patricia moved to the United States in 2000. Her husband Will is a chess master and an educator teaching math for the Cave Creek Unified School District. They have three children: Julian (26), Alberto (23), and Jimena (15). In her free time she enjoys playing volleyball. Patricia graduated from Arizona State University in 2009 with a BA in Education and a BLE/SEI endorsement. In 2020, she received her Master’s Degree in Leadership from Norther Arizona University.
Mr. Efrain Casillas
The Director of Los Tigres de Tolleson is Mr. Efrain Casillas. He has also been awarded by various organizations including the Music Teacher of Excellence Award from the Country Music Association (CMA) Foundation Award, the Esperanza Latino Teacher Award from Chicano Por La Causa, and the Phoenix Arts Hero Award for 2022. Mr. Casillas was also featured on the Kelly Clarkson show in 2020.
Mariachi Los Tigres De Tolleson
Since 2012, the Tolleson Elementary School District Mariachi Band, Los Tigres De Tolleson, has been captivating audiences throughout Tolleson and the Phoenix area with their energetic performances, strong vocals, exciting melodies, and the execution of traditional and contemporary arrangements alike. Los Tigres de Tolleson appeals to audiences of all generations and heritages. Los Tigres de Tolleson have performed at many prestigious events and venues, such as the Phoenix Convention Center, the AzCASE Conference, the Wild Horse Pass Casino, the Indian Baseball Field, the Diamondback baseball field for their Hispanic Heritage month, Estrella Mountain Community College, and the Kids at Hope Institute. Their most recent and notable performance was at Disneyland in California. Winners of Choice Award at the Tucson International Mariachi Conference in 2017 and 1st place runner-up in 2018, and 2019, they have also won the hearts of audiences at the American Association of School Personnel Administrators (AASPA) and at the Arizona Association of Latinos Administrators, Superintendents (AzALAS), and The Arizona State Board of Education. Los Tigres De Tolleson takes great pride in being one of the finest elementary school mariachi bands in the area and consistently serves as a role model for upcoming mariachi musicians from public schools. Because of this, they were featured on Telemundo for Hispanic Heritage Month.
Dr. Jim Dean
Dr. Jim Dean was approved as Dysart Schools Superintendent in October 2022. He has been with Dysart since 2005, previously serving as a Principal, Director of Public Relations, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources and Assistant Superintendent for Support Services. Dean has also served as a principal, assistant principal, teacher and high school coach in other districts prior to joining Dysart. In 2020, Dean was named a Distinguished Administrator for the Education Services Division by Arizona School Administrators (ASA) for his dedication and leadership towards students, staff and colleagues. Dean participates in a variety of educational and community organizations and is currently serving as the President of the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) Executive Board. He holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Acacia University, Masters in Educational Leadership from University of Phoenix and a Bachelors in Elementary Education from Grand Canyon University. Dean’s doctoral research focused on training models for aspiring school administrators.
Dr. Irvin Leon Scott
Dr. Irvin Scott joined the faculty of Harvard Graduate School of Education during the summer of 2016. At Harvard, Irvin’s concentration is Educational Leadership as well as Faith and Education Partnerships. Before coming to Harvard, Irvin served for five years as the deputy director for K–12 education at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where he led the investment of $300 million in initiatives focused on transforming how teachers are recruited, developed, and rewarded. This work was built on existing efforts that were occurring in the Gates Foundation’s Intensive Partnership. At the Foundation, Scott also led a team to initiate the Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers experience, which has become a teacher-driven movement and can be found in a majority of states across the country. Look up #ECET2 to learn more. This teacher-led effort involves bringing thousands of teachers together to collaborate with their peers, engage in teacher leadership, and celebrate the profession. In an effort to address educational inequities in the U.S., Dr. Scott also led an effort at the Foundation to build strong partnerships and deeper engagement between faith-based organizations that serve underrepresented students, families, and communities. Over his nearly 30 years in Education, Scott has been Chief Academic Officer and Assistant Superintendent of High Schools for Boston Public Schools; a High School Principal at McCaskey East High School in Lancaster, PA; and a High School English Teacher at McCaskey High School – the job he’s loved the most. Irvin and his wife Kisha have three sons, and now three daughters – married to his sons, as well as two little grandsons!
Megan Hamburgh became the principal at Rogers Ranch School in July of 2020. Mrs. Hamburgh served in the field of education since 2005, beginning her career as a 1st grade teacher. Ms. Hamburgh has served in the capacity of classroom teacher, instructional coach, and assistant principal prior to beginning her role as Principal in 2020. She has been the recipient of the Pinnacle of Leadership, Westside Impact Teacher of the Year, along with her staff received the A+ School of Excellence Award and this year Rogers Ranch earned an “A” rating by the Department of Education based on the 2021-2022 AASA scores. Serving the Rogers Ranch community is an extreme honor. We work diligently at Rogers Ranch to provide an exceptional educational experience for our students. Our vision and mission define our actions and commitment to student success. Over the past two years we have been working to build our STEM program which is the signature program for the district school. This has been an undertaking as we want to truly embody all that STEM represents. Through partnerships and opportunities that have been provided we have been working to build our program. Rogers Ranch is an incredible school that I am beyond proud to have the privilege of leading.
Dr. Joe Roselle
Dr. Roselle is an active community-based educator. His philosophy is to solve community-based problems with community-based solutions by staying focused on his goal and pivoting on his path. Dr. Roselle collaboratively applies his experience and the knowledge acquired from his three advanced degrees in education to bring people together. Dr. Roselle currently serves as the Chairperson for the City of Phoenix’s Youth and Education Commission, the President of the Laveen Lions, the Executive Director of PBISAz, the facilitator of the Laveen Community Action Committee, the Vice President of the South Mountain and Laveen Chamber of Commerce and the Community Engagement Coordinator for the Laveen School District.
Dr. Jeff Sprout
Dr. Jeff Sprout became the Superintendent of the Laveen School District in July 2020. A career educator, Dr. Sprout has served in Phoenix for 31 years in positions including classroom teacher, principal, and assistant superintendent. He is the recipient of the Excellence in Education Award for teaching; Rodel Exemplary Principal Award; and, along with his staff, received the A+ School of Excellence Award “It is an honor to serve the students, staff, families, and community of Laveen. I am committed to our schools being the best option for every child in pre-K through eighth grade, including instructional excellence, signature programs, and innovatively solving the challenges we face as a District and community and celebrating our successes.”
Micah C. Nicholas
Originally from New Iberia, LA, Micah currently serves as the Love Our Schools Community and Family Engagement coordinator for United Way of Acadiana In this role, he works to lead CAFÉ efforts to increase, organize, and coordinate community-based resources in support of principals’ strategies for increased community engagement on their campuses. Micah has a degree in Psychology from Sewanee: The University of the South and a master’s degree in Nonprofit Administration. During the pandemic, he also completed University of South Florida’s Diversity and Inclusion & Inclusive and Ethical Leadership certificate programs. As a strategic thinker, facilitator, and youth development advocate, Micah works to connect the dots between developing the next generation and improving the communities they live in through community involvement. When Micah isn’t working in his official capacity, he is busy lending his skills to other nonprofit organizations in the area.
Be Kind Crew Member SASHAY
SASHAY is a Kindness Concierge for The Be Kind People Project. She is a triple threat actress, dancer, and singer! She has performed as a professional Princess and made magic as a Fairy-Godmother-in -Training at Walt Disney World. SASHAY didn’t start dancing until age 16 and currently teaches multiple styles of dance/musical theater at Bender Performing Arts. In her free time, she enjoys playing video games, crafting, and going on world-wide adventures. SASHAY’S favorite Pledge Skill is “BE A FRIEND” because when you show up and are there for those around you, it gives your friends the support they need to accomplish anything!
Be Kind Crew Member TK
TK is a Kindness Concierge for The Be Kind People Project. TK is a dance artist from Phoenix, Arizona. She trained in ballet, modern, jazz, improvisation and composition before attending and graduating from Arizona State University with a BFA in Dance and a Certificate in Ethics. TK enjoys finding creative ways to make a difference and putting on a great show while doing it! When TK is not dancing you can find her playing solitaire or rewatching Criminal Minds. TK’s favorite Pledge Skill is “BE RESPONSIBLE” because it helps her take accountability and get things done!
Be Kind Crew Member SUNNY
SUNNY is the National Manager of Online Learning and THE BE KIND CREW Performance Scheduler at The Be Kind People Project. Her responsibilities include managing the development of over 75+ monthly curriculum pieces for BE KIND Break Premium, overseeing the National BE KIND Education Council and Youth Advisory Board, developing content for virtual learning programs, and scheduling THE BE KIND CREW. She has been a part of THE BE KIND CREW since 2015 and joined BE KIND full-time as the School Wellness Programs and Events Coordinator in 2017 after she achieved her BS in Nutrition/Dietetics. Her favorite Be Kind Pledge Skill is “BE ENCOURAGING” because we all have the power to use our voice and our actions to empower those around us!
Be Kind Crew Member AKELLZ
AKELLZ is the Director of Creative Content and BE KIND CREW Experiences. He comes to us by way of NY and graduated with both a BFA in dance and BA in theatre from Arizona State University. He is now teaching dance at the college/university level and oversees creative elements of school assembly content, crew choreography, scripts, and event-specific needs at The Be Kind People Project. Anthony is a strong believer in leaving enough room for dessert, staying hydrated, and dabbling in different outlets to re-discover and activate different parts of yourself; creating and learning new things. AKELLZ’s favorite part of The Be Kind Pledge is “BE HONEST” because being honest allows one to make more authentic choices and build more aligned connections and pathways in life.
Be Kind Crew Member LUX
LUX is the Director of In-Person Learning and THE BE KIND CREW Operations for The Be Kind People Project. She graduated from Arizona State University in 2015 with a BA in History. She has been a part of The Be Kind People Project since 2011. In addition to THE BE KIND CREW, LUX also dances for Elektrolytes, winners of America’s Best Dance Crew. With them, LUX won the Gold Medal for the United States at Hip Hop International in 2018 and 2021. LUX’s favorite part of The Be Kind Pledge is “BE SUPPORTIVE” because she believes support is a two-way street; the stronger the support, the stronger your friendship will be!
Sharisse Nunes, Lead Teacher, Falcon Hill Elementary School: Eighteen years of education, experience, and collaboration has shaped Sharisse into a passionate and innovative educator. Her foundational values are teaching through respect and celebration of cultural diversity in the classroom and community. Sharisse leads and mentors through action, collaborative conversations, reflective feedback among colleagues, teammates, and student teachers. Sharisse has been a part of team-based models and sharing rosters of learners all with the mindset of deeper and personalized learning through the support of ASU’s Next Education Workforce for two years. In the classroom, Sharisse has taught 3rd – 6th grades in Mesa, Arizona. She has mentored 8 student teachers from Arizona State University. She is a top 10 finalist for Arizona Teacher of the Year in 2020. Sharisse earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education and her Masters of Education Curriculum and Instruction Reading from Grand Canyon University.
Dr. Lisa McCray Cannon
Senior Program Manager, Next Education Workforce
As a Senior Program Manager with the Next Education Workforce initiative, Lisa supports and collaborates with P12 partners in Arizona and California to create team-based models where multiple educators wrap around shared rosters of learners. Her work is centered around helping teams use distributed expertise to determine how they can best meet the needs of all learners by supporting teams to design deeper and personalized learning. Prior to joining the next Education Workforce team, Lisa served as a school principal for 7 years. During her tenure as principal, Lisa built team-based models at her school. In addition to implementing team-based models, Lisa led her school in becoming the first PBL school in the district. In addition to school leadership, Lisa was a K-12 instructional coach and professional development specialist for 14 years. As a classroom teacher, Lisa taught 3rd – 9th grade in Washington, North Carolina and Arizona. In addition to her role as a dedicated educator, Lisa is a founding member of the East Valley Alliance of Black School Educators, a community-based organization that is equity focused. Lisa earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Dance from the University of Washington, her Masters of Education from City University and her Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy from Arizona State University.
Senior Program Manager, Next Education Workforce Initiative
As Senior Program Manager on the Next Education Workforce team, Korbi leads the design and implementation of systems and resources that support dual capacity building toward a thriving community and school ecosystem. Korbi creates sustainable roles for community educators to help deepen and personalize student learning, develops resources, and fosters partnerships to help build networks of people that support young people in learning environments. Before joining ASU, Korbi was the Director of Education and School Programs at Childsplay, a Theatre for young Audiences. There she worked with teams of artists to create arts-integration projects with educators and young people throughout the state of Arizona. She was Co-Director on multiple large scale research projects investigating the connection between play-based learning and language and literacy development. Korbi has over a decade of experience in collaborative program management, professional development design, and facilitating learning with adults and young people. She has a BA in Music and Nonprofit Leadership and Management from ASU and is currently completing a Masters degree in Learning Sciences with ASU.
Laura Toenjes brings more than 25 years of educational experience to her role as Kyrene Superintendent. She grew up in Gilbert, AZ and went on to graduate from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in communications and aspirations for law school. After graduation she accepted a position in the Gilbert School District and fell in love with teaching and learning. She immediately enrolled in an education program to get her teaching certification and went on to complete a master’s degree in elementary education and a dual master’s degree in administration/supervision and curriculum/instruction. Ms. Toenjes joined Kyrene in the 2016-17 school year as Assistant Superintendent, overseeing the School Effectiveness department which includes: school supervision, curriculum and assessment, professional development, and federal programs & outreach. She has had the fortunate experience to work in multiple positions in all levels of the education system from classroom teacher to principal, to district administration, to county and state-level administration, across the state of Arizona. Through these experiences, she has witnessed inequities in funding and resources and is a strong advocate for access and inclusion in public education. As a lifelong learner, she has high standards for herself, educators and students, along with a commitment to do what it takes to ensure their greatest chance for success, as she truly believes in the power of education to change the life of every child and that we each have a personal responsibility to ensure every child has equitable access to a high-quality education. Ms. Toenjes is a Chandler resident and is the proud mother of two boys who have both chosen paths to serve and protect others. Her oldest son Seth is a wildland firefighter, and her youngest son Ethan is currently serving in the United States Marine Corps.
Dr. David Dumon
Dr. David Dumon serves as the superintendent of Altar Valley School District. He began his career in 1995 as a social studies teacher at Alhambra School District in Phoenix. In 2000, Dr. Dumon started his administrative career at Surprise Elementary, a K – 8 school, in Dysart Unified School District. He spent the next 14 years in Dysart, most of which was as the principal at Surprise Elementary. His school’s achievements were recognized in 2012 when he was selected for the Arizona School Administrator, Distinguished Administrator Award – Elementary Division and honored as a finalist for the Rodel Exemplary Principal Award.
As superintendent of Altar Valley, Dr. Dumon has focused on ensuring schools run efficiently and allocating resources appropriately, while always considering what is best for kids. Dr. Dumon is committed to maintaining small class sizes and offering free, full-day pre-school and kindergarten. In 2022, Dr. Dumon was awarded the All Arizona Superintendent Award for Small Districts and completed his certification for American Association for School Administrators (AASA) National Superintendent Certification.
Dr. Dumon is a three-time graduate of Arizona State University where he received his bachelor, master, and doctoral degrees. He lives in Tucson with his wife, daughter, and two dogs.
Mr. Brian Capistran was born and raised in Glendale, Arizona. He attended elementary school in the Glendale Elementary School District and graduated from Glendale High School within the Glendale Union High School District. Mr. Capistran is currently the Superintendent of the Glendale Union High School District where he manages the day-to-day operations and the growth and development of an award-winning district. Superintendent Capistran has spent his entire career serving the GUHSD community. Over the past 27 years, he has applied his professional preparation and extensive experience as a teacher and leader to make significant contributions to the success of the Glendale Union High School District. Mr. Capistran began his teaching career at Sunnyslope High School. He would later become the principal at Apollo High School. Superintendent Capistran also served GUHSD as an assistant principal, school safety administrator, assistant superintendent of student services, and associate superintendent of curriculum and instruction before becoming Superintendent of the Glendale Union High School District in 2015. Throughout his career, Superintendent Capistran has sought opportunities to make meaningful contributions to GUHSD, the cities of Phoenix and Glendale, and the state of Arizona by serving on local and state-level committees, commissions, and boards. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Glendale Chamber of Commerce and the Arizona Business and Education Coalition. He served six years on the AZ Commission for Post-Secondary Education, is a member of (ASA), the Arizona Superintendents Association Legislative Review Group, and was recently elected to be the President of the ASA Superintendents Division for the 2022-2023 school year. On July 1, he began a three-year term serving in a national position as a member of the board of directors for AASA/The School Superintendents Association.
Dr. Gregory Wyman
Greg Wyman has been an educator for thirty-seven years in Arizona. During his career he has been a teacher, principal, associate superintendent and superintendent. Greg is currently Superintendent for the J.O. Combs Unified School District, a suburban K-12 district with 4,400students in ten schools. Greg has also served as superintendent for the Snowflake Unified School District, Apache Junction Unified School District and the Payson Unified School District. During his career Greg has demonstrated innovative leadership in a variety of aspects of education. This innovative leadership includes a sustainability initiative, which connected real time data from energy saving devices with multi-disciplinary curricula. He also implemented innovative technology in the classroom. Innovation with curriculum includes his current work with personalized student learning through the #FORWARD initiative. Greg has written numerous articles and presented at state and national conferences on innovation and K-12 education. For his work he received national recognition as a recipient of the AASA President’s Technology award in February 2005. This year he was awarded the Arizona School Administrators Association A ll Arizona Superintendent for Mid-Sized School Districts. Greg is active in promoting public education and serves on numerous boards. He has served as President of the Arizona School Administrators Association (ASA) and Vice President –Education for the Arizona Business Education Coalition (ABEC). In addition, Greg has served on community boards including several Chamber of Commerce and the Superstition Mountain Rotary Club and the Joe Foss Institute. Currently Greg is the Treasurer and Board Member for a Prostate Cancer Organization, Prostate Onsite Project (POP).
Dr. Lupita Ley Hightower
Dr. Hightower is Arizona’s Superintendent of the Year for 2022 and has worked in education for over 26 years in various roles and has served as superintendent for the last 12 years. As an immigrant starting school in the U.S. in the 7th grade, she credits her success to the many believers including family and educators. Her greatest accomplishment is bringing more learning opportunities to students especially in cases where they would otherwise not have them. She is a treasure hunter who searches for the talents, skills and intelligence that exist in all children and youth without exception. Dr. Hightower is proud to serve on the Board of Trustees for Grand Canyon University and served as past President for Arizona School Administrators and the Arizona Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (AzALAS) and past executive committee member for AASA. In 2019, Dr. Hightower received the National Latinx Superintendent of the Year among other humbling recognitions including Arizona School Administrators Superintendent Award for Mid-Size Districts.
Dr. Perry Berry
Dr. Perry Berry Dr. Perry Berry is the Superintendent of Queen Creek Unified School District. He has over 20years of experience in education, serving as a teacher, coach, principal, and district administrator. He currently serves one of the fastest-growing school districts in Arizona, prioritizing college and career readiness and leadership development for more than 14 thousandpreschool-12th grade students. Dr. Berry says his ultimate goal is to positively impact young people and prepare them for the lives they will lead after school. He is humbled to serve so many great people within the Queen Creek and East Mesa community.
Brian E. Mueller
Brian E. Mueller envisions GCU not just as an institution for higher learning, but also as an instrument for change to bring more highly educated, critically thinking, entrepreneurially minded graduates into our community. As the university’s president, Mr. Mueller is progressive and anticipatory in an industry that is slow in adapting to change. To fulfill this vision, Mr. Mueller uses his five-point plan to revitalize west Phoenix by 1) Developing a STEM workforce that attracts businesses to the area, 2) Creating jobs for local residents, 3) Supporting K-12 education, 4) Making the surrounding neighborhood safer through a $1.6 million partnership with the Phoenix Police Department, and 5) Helping hundreds of homeowners in the community through a first-of-its-kind partnership with Habitat for Humanity.
As Founder & CEO of School Connect, Tracey Beal helps local schools build dynamic partnerships among faith, business, government, and non-profit organizations. This model of strategic collaboration helps schools accomplish measurable goals while fostering win/win partnerships. In the spring of 2015, the US Department of Education and the Arizona Department of Education recognized the exceptional results of the collaborative model at Palo Verde Middle School in the Washington Elementary School District. To date, School Connect has facilitated partnerships in more than 700 public and charter schools in Arizona. School Connect hosts an annual Summit at Grand Canyon University where top leaders from each of these sectors gather to learn best practices about collaboration with schools. The School Connect model is now being used in several cities including Orange County, CA; Modesto, CA; Colorado Springs, CO; Oklahoma City, OK; San Antonio, TX; Fort Wayne, IN; Appleton, WI; Chicago, IL; and Lafayette, LA. Tracey is a member of the Arizona 21st CCLC Vision Team, Superintendent Hoffman’s Technology Council, Arizona Broadband Network Task Force, Leadership West, Global Leadership Summit Team, ACE Mentoring Board, Grand Canyon University Advisory Board, and the Phoenix Mayor’s Youth and Education Commission. Tracey is married to David and has 4 grown children and 7 grandchildren.
Sara Wyffels, the 2021 Arizona Teacher of the year is a Spanish teacher at Chandler High School in Chandler, Arizona. Wyffels currently teaches Spanish level 2 for Chandler Online Academy. Wyffels is a national board-certified teacher who earned her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Western Washington University and her Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of Portland. The ignition for her language learning journey was sparked by her study a broad experience in college. She is passionate about teaching the power of human connections through the Spanish language. Wyffels learned Spanish as a second language, which has shown her the power of human connections, adventure, and the beauty of the human spirit, which are themes integrated in her Spanish classes. She considers herself and her students to be global citizens who have the ability to make a positive difference in the world every day. She has risen as a teacher leader in her school. Wyffels reminds her students and colleagues that communication must value listening as much as speaking. Since earning her national board certification Wyffels has embarked on a journey for equity and access in her class, school, and district. She has taken on different teacher leadership roles as opportunities to grow and collaborate. With the COVID-19 school closures Wyffels has collaborated with her department and focused on opportunities to innovate and reinvent their classrooms. She leads her classroom and school with integrity, honesty, and positivity.
Dr. Quintin Boyce
Dr. Quintin Boyce was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois and has been an educator since 2002. He attended Arizona State University, where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in 2001, a Master’s degree in Secondary Education in 2004 and his Doctorate in 2012. In 2005, Dr. Boyce began working in the Phoenix Union High School District as a teacher at South Mountain High School and Bioscience High School where he taught Biology, Chemistry, and Forensics. In 2012, he moved from the classroom into school level administration as Principal of Bioscience High School and later moved to Camelback High School to serve as the Principal. Dr. Boyce then held a district-level position as Executive Director of Teaching and Learning, at Phoenix Union High School District. In 2019, Dr. Boyce joined the Roosevelt School District’s Executive Leadership Team as the interim Chief Administrative Officer and became the eventual Superintendent. In November of 2022, Dr. Boyce joined the Educational Outreach team at Arizona State University to lead K-12 school partnerships. Boyce is married and has three daughters and a son. He enjoys remaining active in his community and engaging in recreational sports.
Quincy Natay is a lifelong resident of Chinle, Arizona on the Navajo Nation. After graduating from Chinle High School in 1983, he completed a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in 1988 at Northern Arizona University (NAU), and then earned an MBA also at NAU in 2001. He became superintendent of Chinle Unified School District in 2013. With a cohesive school board and staff, under his leadership pre-pandemic students produced the highest academic pass rates of any reservation district in Arizona, also surpassing many non-reservation districts. Once known as “failing,” multiple schools and grade levels demonstrated the opportunity gap in reservation schools can be eliminated. Now CUSD schools are poised to quickly recover that same trajectory. During his 32-year career in education, he has influenced state and federal legislation that continues to benefit reservation districts. He has served on the NAFIS board (National Association of Federally Impacted Schools) for many years and is currently the board secretary. He has been a longstanding member of the NIISA board (National Indian Impacted Schools Association) and is now the board president. In 2022 his career achievements have led to recognition as the first Native American to earn the Arizona School Administrator’s AZ Superintendent of the Year and selection as one of four finalists for the AASA’s National Superintendent of the Year.
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Stay tuned for special announcements featuring the School Connect Summit 2023 Speaker Lineup!
Kareem Neal is a self-contained special education teacher in Phoenix, AZ. He has taught students with cognitive delays for 25 years. He is the recipient of the 2019 Arizona Teacher of the Year. Kareem was recently awarded an honorary doctorate from Northern Arizona University for his contributions to special education in Arizona. He is a 2019-2021 Understood Teacher Fellow. He is also on the board of directors for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. He helped pilot the National Network of State Teachers of the Year Mentorship program. Kareem’s passion is connecting all students in schools, springing from his awareness that students with learning differences did not truly feel like members of their school communities. This led him to evaluate his own educational journey and how students in black communities often did not feel like education spaces were for them. He is now a restorative justice trainer for the Phoenix Union High School District. He focuses on building community through eliminating bias that comes from lack of connection with people who are different from each other. This work has led him to winning the Arizona Education Association’s Diversity Grant and the Maryvale Revitalization Committee’s Educator Excellence Award and being named vice president of the Phoenix Union High School District’s Black Alliance. Kareem’s academic journey was filled with adults who let him know that he was capable, which he attributes to being a lifetime learner. Too many students aren’t afforded that same opportunity and Kareem is working tirelessly to change that.
Scott Davis M.Ed., LPC, LCDC
Scott Davis holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a Master of Education in counseling, both from the University of North Texas. He is also a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor. Prior to joining The Meadows, Davis was director of clinical services for the Enterhealth treatment program in Van Alstyne, Texas. He was also a case manager and eating disorder program director for the Sante Center for Healing in Argyle, Texas, and regional director of outpatient services for Phoenix House of Texas in Dallas.
Davis has experience treating patients and military personnel who have substance use disorders, sex addiction, eating disorders, and trauma. In addition, he has training in such modalities as neurofeedback, brain mapping, EMDR, CBT, motivational interviewing, challenge course, ropes facilitation, and the interplay among brain development, neurology, and trauma recovery.
Dr. Carol Lippert
Dr. Carol Lippert has 30 years of experience in the field of education. She is currently employed with Grand Canyon Education as the Assistance Vice President for K-12 Outreach and Support. In this role, she extends outreach to K-12 districts and schools through high-quality professional development and student engagement opportunities. She is also a commissioner on the City of Phoenix Youth in Education Commission as well as an advisory board member for Cognia’s Arizona advisory committee. Carol also works as an adjunct professor for Grand Canyon University teaching courses in both educational administration and masters in teaching programs.
Previously, Carol held the position of Associate Superintendent for the High Academic Standards for Students Division at the Arizona Department of Education. In this role, she oversaw K-12 Academic Standards, Early Childhood Education, the Office of English Language Acquisition Services, Gifted Education, and Career and Technical Education. She has also served as the Principal of Washington High School in the Glendale Union High School District GUHSD. Under her leadership, Washington was recognized as an Arizona Education Foundation A+ School, a Silver Medal School by US News and World Reports, an All Subjects Higher Performing School by the Arizona Business & Education Coalition ABEC, and one of the Top Schools in the USA by topschoolsintheusa.com. Prior to obtaining the principalship, Carol held various Assistant Principal posts for the GUHSD.
In 2006, Carol was awarded the National Association for Secondary School Principals Assistant Principal of the Year for the State of Arizona. She received this award in part for her work in bringing college and career programs to her school with the creation of special events which linked businesses and colleges to the school. Preceding Carol’s work as an administrator, she taught science at both the high school and middle school level and was an educational consultant for Susan Kovalik and Associates.
Dr. Betsy Hargrove
Dr. Betsy Hargrove has been the Superintendent of the Avondale Elementary School District (AESD) since 2012. Previously she served as the Assistant Superintendent for the district from 2009 to 2012.
She provides ongoing leadership in creating a positive climate of high expectations for all involved with the educational programs of the district. She also works to engage in the continuous improvement of the Avondale educational community by implementing and monitoring the achievement of district goals and mission for every student to grow as a thinker, problem solver, and communicator to pursue a future without limits. Ensuring this mission is reached, Dr. Hargrove and her team actively seek opportunities to build relationships with community stakeholders, business people, and civic leaders to make connections within the district and sites. Continuous improvement is the central focus of the Avondale School District.
The Avondale Elementary School District has embedded a continuous improvement focus in all systems throughout the organization. The layering of high yield instructional practices, job-embedded professional development, focused and collaborative accountability, and teacher and leader empowerment has demonstrated ongoing success. The result is that AESD has outperformed the state in growth in achievement four years in a row.
Dr. Hargrove has presented at the American Educational Research Association, Character Education Forum, National Staff Development Council Mega Conference, TAP National Conferences, 21st Century STEM Conference, Arizona School Administrators, National School Board Association, U.S. News STEM Solutions National Leadership Conference, the School Connect Summit, and American Association of School Administrators to share this approach and highlight the successes of the Avondale Elementary School District.
Beyond the shared professional and academic accomplishments of the entire AESD community, Dr. Hargrove is most proud of her two daughters, Morgan and Clare.
Nedda Shafir has been in the field of education for many decades with experience as an elementary teacher, curriculum specialist, adjunct university professor, author, district administrator and public information officer. She has utilized her expertise in the areas of public relations, communications, marketing, business partnerships, community engagement, customer service, media training and crisis management to help businesses, non-profit organizations, schools and districts.
Nedda has a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education, is a Reading Specialist and is credentialed as a school administrator. She has done educational consulting and presentations nationwide in the areas of communications, community engagement, crisis management, public relations, leadership, strength-based coaching and language arts.
Nedda has a passion for creating sustainable change and assisting organizations in developing strength-based systems of success and has been honored for her work in the area of school public relations and volunteering.
Her volunteer activities include:
☑ Member of Leadership West Class XXIV
☑ Former Chair of the City of Phoenix Youth and Education Commission
☑ Past President of the Arizona School Public Relations Association
☑ Board member of STEM Sports
☑ Board member of Speak Up, Stand Up, Save a Life
☑ Board member of School Connect AZ
Heidi Vega serves as the Director of Communications for the Arizona School Boards Association in Phoenix, which serves all school board members, superintendents, and school districts across the state. Her time with ASBA has provided a wealth of professional development in policy, advocacy, and state level initiatives, such as diversity and equity, to better understand the different disparities students face.
Before that, she served as the Director of Communications and Community Engagement with the Deer Valley Unified School District, one of the largest school districts in Arizona spanning over 367 square miles in five different cities, through many initiatives including mass communications, crisis situations, marketing campaigns, community outreach and more.
In 2020, she served as Vice President of Diversity Engagement for the National School Public Relations while keynoting on the importance of equity in public schools for all children across the nation. She is a past chapter president of the Arizona School Public Relations Association. Heidi was named a “35 Under 35” honoree in 2012 by the National School Public Relations Association and was recognized as one of NSPRA’s 2014-15 Front-Runners.
Most recently, Heidi completed her certificate program in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University. Heidi grew up in west Glendale in a high poverty neighborhood where she attended public school in the Glendale Elementary School District and is a veteran of the United States Air Force.
Dan has had the privilege of serving in ministry since 1988 and was ordained in 1995. He joined the staff of Pure Heart in 2000, serving as the Associate Teaching Pastor. In 2005 Dan accepted the role of Senior Pastor. He has a Masters of Theology degree from Gateway Bible College. Dan and his wife, Nicole, were married in August of 1998. Together they have three children, Joshua, Luke, and Abigail.
Dr. Mike Richardson
Dr. Mike Richardson is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University and Fuller Theological Seminary. He has served in leadership roles and consulted in church, parachurch, and educational organizations, and he has been a speaker and teacher in seminars, conferences, and churches in different parts of the world. For the last 11 years Mike has been on the faculty of the College of Theology at Grand Canyon University. In addition to undergraduate students, he also teaches in the Seminary and Doctoral College for Grand Canyon. Mike and his wife Carol reside in Phoenix, Arizona, near to their 3 adult children, two of which, along with their spouses, have provided three grandchildren … so far.
Ric Pringle is best described as a “family man” – his pride and joy is rooted in a marriage of almost 50 years, and he’s “Dad” to five offspring and “Papa Ric” to 12 grandchildren.
Secondarily, Ric is a retired corporate attorney with a career of about 40 years. As senior executive, his role was that of serving on the leadership team for each business for which he was employed. A practitioner of “servant leadership,” he is a strong believer in delegation and empowerment and says micromanagement impedes operational efficiencies and slows staff development and growth.
A transplanted Illinoisan (and graduate of the University of Illinois), Ric is a daily consumer of digital tidbits of the Chicago Tribune. But his love of sunshine, blue skies, and desert makes Arizona his now-permanent home and makes for an ardent fan of the Cardinals.
Linda Livermore has a true calling for service and children! Her volunteer efforts have been her driving force during most of her adult life. Her heartfelt desire to help people grow and become their best selves led her to a life of public service including ongoing volunteer work with churches, public schools, service to small groups, financial counseling, and time with local resource centers.
When her three children were young, she was very active in the public schools they attended. Continuing in this tradition, she will again volunteer in the fall of 2022 as her oldest grandson begins kindergarten.
When Linda is not busy giving her time and effort to various projects and groups, she enjoys time well spent with her husband Kent, her three children, and four grandchildren. Family means everything and they are the joy of her life! Linda lives in Peoria, Arizona and attended Arizona State University graduating with a BA in Communications.
Since 1990, Dean Kuest has been a part of the vision and ministry of Central Christian Church of Arizona, Currently, he serves as the Glendale Campus Pastor. Dean is also an adjunct professor at his alma mater, Hope International University where he thoroughly enjoys teaching courses on Team Building and Servant Leadership alongside his father, who is a professor there as well.
Dean is on a life-long journey of discovering how his passion for teaching and leading others can best be used as a peacemaker in an increasingly polarized world. He pursues this work through leading guided discussions on conflict resolution as well as leading discovery trips each year to Israel/Palestine or a learning journey through our Southern States.
He and his wife, Leslie just eclipsed the 30-year marriage mark! They have five sons, four daughters-in-law, and three grandchildren. If he is not at church, you can probably find him in a coffee shop, a local school or at a baseball diamond somewhere in the Valley of the Sun.
Dr. Jennifer Johnson
Previously the Assistant Vice President for Academic Alliances for Grand Canyon University, Dr. Jennifer Johnson serves as the university’s Public School Liaison providing leadership support to K-12 public district schools in Arizona and across the United States. Jennifer co-facilitates the Superintendents Collaborative Network, a program to mentor new Arizona superintendents. In addition, Jennifer and her teammates on the K12 Educational Development team provide educators and students with opportunities to better understand the college-going process and advance their education all the way through a doctoral program. Prior to joining GCU, Jennifer served as the Deputy Superintendent at the Arizona Department of Education and superintendent of the Glendale Union High School District. Dr. Johnson earned her Ed.D from ASU in educational leadership and public policy, her M.A. in curriculum and assessment from California State University and her B.S. in Speech/Theatre/English education from Northern Arizona University.
Thank you for your interest. We will be in touch soon!